Speech and Debate Team Culminates Terrific Season with a Strong Showing at NYSFL State Championship

By Jack Viscuso ’21

All good things must come to an end. Chaminade’s Robert C. Wright Speech and Debate team experienced remarkable success this season at invitational and local tournaments, culminating this journey at the New York State Forensic League State Championship on April 28 and 29. Under the leadership of president John Michael Magloire ’18, the team consistently placed in top spots with many competitors advancing to elimination rounds at prestigious competitions, such as Lexington, Princeton, and Harvard. Having won the Lincoln-Douglas sweepstakes last year, the team sought to continue their winning streak.

Early Saturday morning, the Flyers arrived at Hofstra University. Participants had a tiresome day, completing five intense rounds in a fiery, competitive atmosphere. Unlike other tournaments, results for debate rounds weren’t disclosed until 5 p.m. that night, forcing debaters to be on their “A game” all day. As Magloire urged in practice, “Play every round like you haven’t won yet.” 

Members of the Chaminade Speech and Debate team gather for a photo after their successful day of competition at the New York State Forensic League State Championship.

An impressive number of debaters “broke” into elimination rounds on Saturday. In Varsity LD, Seniors John Magloire, Aidan Fitzgerald, Dan Hepworth, and Sean Lochner advanced into octafinals. In Novice LD, Freshmen Steven Jones, Kyle Klugewicz, Michael Bellia, Pat McMillan, and Jack Viscuso advanced to double-octafinals and then octafinals. Sophomores John Marchiel, Charlie Weiler, and Grant Allen proceeded to octafinals in Intermediate LD. The team of Jack Valentino ’18 and Ryan Malloy ’18 worked their way to semifinals in Varsity Public Forum, as well.

In the speech realm, Paul Caruso ’20 advanced to quarterfinals in declamation, and Peter Vouthas ’20 finished in 6th place for impromptu speaking.

Senior Rory Mahon impressively finished in 4th place in Student Congress, concluding four years of unparalleled success in Congress at various tournaments.

As the day dwindled on, John Michael Magloire defeated opponent after opponent, pushing on to Varsity LD finals against Roslyn’s Asher Bykov. Many Flyers filled the room to support Chaminade’s Speech and Debate president. Listening to the shattering case turns and persuasive speaking tone reaffirmed Magloire’s unprecedented debating skill, one that guided him to 1st place at numerous local and national tournaments. On a 2-1 decision for the negative, JM emerged as the Varsity LD state champion.

Although the team was unable to secure a 1st place LD sweepstakes trophy, they finished in 3rd place with a slew of plaques to proudly display.

Senior captain Dan Hepworth reflected, “My four years on the debate team were a life-changing experience. I learned up a myriad of useful skills and made lasting friendships with my teammates. Not only did I forge relationships with my fellow Flyers, but I also befriended people from all over the nation through the national tournaments across America. When I was a freshman and sophomore, I had fantastic captains, who in turn inspired me to be the best possible captain for the current novice and JV LDers.”

For the seniors, it was a bittersweet ending. They had spent endless hours together at colleges, on buses, at practice, and in hotels, leaving an influential mark on the debate community. 

John Michael Magloire ’18 proudly displays his NYSFL Varsity Lincoln-Douglas State Champion award alongside Brother John McGrory, S.M. ’84.

John Michael Magloire stated, “I am extremely proud of the dedication and effort that our debaters demonstrated in preparing for states. After an already successful year, I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish at nationals.”

He expressed gratification and hope, reflecting, “It has been a pleasure to lead the team for the past two years, and I could not be more thankful to Brother John and my fellow upperclassmen for challenging me and helping me to improve over the past four years. Given the high potential of the novices and the talent of the juniors, I am confident that in the coming years the team will continue to reach new heights on both the local and national circuits.

Although there are still a couple of national circuit tournaments remaining, including CFL’s and the NSDA national championship, the NYSFL State Championship signified the end of an incredibly memorable and triumphant season. As the seniors depart to college, they have formed and left behind a group of motivated underclassmen who seek to continue the speech and debate team’s legacy of success.